Happy Fossil Fools Day! We know, today is technically April Fool's Day, but Fossil Fools Day is no joke. It kicked off in London this morning as Rising Tide protesters red-carded the Football Association for accepting sponsorship from a coal-burning utility. Take a look at other actions across the globe throughout the day. One easy way to make sure you aren't called a fossil fool is hanging your laundry to dry.
"To dry more evenly and avoid strangely shaped clothes, buy some clothespins to keep handy," suggests Stanford University's upbeat sustainable choices website. Our sentiments exactly. After all, we don’t want to give more fuel to homeowners' associations that ban clotheslines as unsightly. Happily, such restrictions are being countered by a national "Right to Dry" movement.
To us, nothing says spring like clothes billowing on a line or draped on a rack in the yard, on a rooftop, or by an open window. And nothing says global warming like an automatic laundry dryer, which, be it gas- or electric-powered, is the most energy-draining home appliance, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
In 2005, there were 88 million automatic dryers in the U.S., burning through 1,079 kilowatt hours per household, each of which was responsible for releasing up to 2,224 pounds of global warming CO2 from power plants. By contrast, the only energy you tap when air drying laundry is solar, wind and your own. Plus, you’re burning calories, bending and stretching, breathing...who needs yoga class?
If you hang dry just half your annual laundry loads -- in April through September, say -- you can save an average 723 pounds of emissions and about $50 a year, ACEEE calculates. Or look at it this way: By line drying a mere 10 laundry loads, "you could save enough electricity to run a clock radio for 3,000 hours," Stanford calculates. While hang drying is inherently sustainable, you can make it even greener. Here's how:
1) Drying racks made of New England white pine and birch, from second-growth forests and rescued mill scraps, from $29.95 at abundantearth.com; Clothesline kits using Vermont cedar poles, from about $95 at smartdrying.com.
2) Certified organic hemp clothesline ropes, $20-$40 for up to 108 feet long, depending on desired thickness, at rawganique.com.
3) Clothes pins made from recycled plastic, packaged in a hemp bag, $14 at projectlaundrylist.org.
Or don’t buy anything at all, and get into creative draping from shower rails, picket fences, lawn furniture...the sky's your limit on a sunny spring day.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.